Proverbs 17:12, “It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in foolishness.” (NLT)
I loved reading this in Proverbs today. It just struck me funny how an analogy of cubs being taken away from their mama bear stirs the same fearful picture in our hearts today as it did when it was written in the tenth century BC.
This proverb also hit home because of one of my greatest faults–desiring fairness and justice in all situations. I have always viewed my world as black and white. It is either right or wrong. Shades of gray were never my strength.
The biggest problem this poses is during a situation when I am treated unfairly. We bought a used hot tub to help with my Fibromyalgia, and the store clerk touted the model he was showing us as completely refurbished by the company and is in like-new condition. We paid extra for this thorough thumbs-up and all-clear but when it was delivered, there were at least 10 things wrong with it. Some were very obvious things that were not easy to overlook, and some were very expensive fixes like clearing out the bacteria in the pipes until the water was safe to use. I try to treat others as I would like to be treated, but when this rule of thumb is not reciprocated, it drives me crazy.
Have you ever had someone speak poorly of you to someone else, and you can’t fathom why because you don’t even know the person speaking ill of you very well? Has someone spoken untruths about you to a coworker or boss? Has a family member turned their back on you and tried to bring the rest of the family with them? The unfairness examples are too numerous to count, but we have all felt their sting one time or another in our lives.
In the sixth grade my class switched classes for reading with another sixth grade classroom. When reading ended and I was headed back to my classroom, I noticed a boy eating sunflower seeds and sticking the shells inside of the desk that he was borrowing for that hour of reading. He noticed that I noticed him, and he asked me not to say anything.
Soon after I went back into my classroom and sat down at my desk to start a new lesson, a student from the other 6th grade classroom came down and asked me come with him. I was stunned, and I couldn’t think of why I would be summoned back to reading.
The boy who owned the desk that now contained a pile of sunflower seed shells was standing by the desk of his teacher. The boy who committed this offense was also there, and He pointed a finger at me and said, “She did it, I saw her!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! All of the sixth grade students in the class were staring at me with eyes blinking and wondering why I would do such a thing.
Normally being the kid who likes to blend in with the wall paper, I now found myself at the front of the class in the middle of a major controversy. I stammered at first because of the shock, but my sense of injustice kicked in. I pointed my finger back at this boy and told the teacher I saw him eat the seeds and put the shells in the desk, and he had asked me to keep quiet. The boy retorted back that it certainly was me but like a dog with a bone, I wouldn’t let it go. I wouldn’t back down all the while declaring my innocence until the boy relinquished his lie and told the truth that he in fact was the sunflower seed eater. The whole class said, “OOhh!!” It was quite the scandal.
I still have that sense of justice in me and wasn’t surprised when the college career interest test came back 90% law. I didn’t pursue that career choice. I think if I had it would have made me crazy.
The sunflower seed finger pointing doesn’t end as we grow into adulthood. It only becomes more sophisticated as we grow older. There will be moments we have to defend our truth, but I have found some people won’t admit fault no matter how much we point back. Their personalities are such that if we stick our heals in to defend ourselves, the more they will stick their heels in and rev up their accusations.
Proverbs tells us that in these cases, step away from the situation. We may never be able to convince the person they are wrong, but by living a righteous life and continuing on the path of God, our silence to their slander will speak more about who we are and less about what they say. Trials will come and as Proverbs 17:27 tells us, “A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even tempered.”
When we seek justice with a fool, we’ve essentially given away our peace. They will defend their view like a mama bear defending her cubs. Walk away and give it to God. He sees all truths and knows the hearts of every person. He will defend us and that’s the greatest justice of all.